Obsidian and Blood
by Aliette de Bodard
Summary: A massive fantasy omnibus containing all three novels in the Obsidian and Blood series:
SERVANT OF THE UNDERWORLD
Year One-Knife, Tenochtitlan - the capital of the Aztecs. The end of the world is kept at bay only by the magic of human sacrifice. A priestess disappears from an empty room drenched in blood. Acatl, high priest, must find her, or break the boundaries between the worlds of the living and the dead.
HARBINGER OF THE STORM
The year is Two House and the Mexica Empire teeters on the brink of destruction, lying vulnerable to the flesh-eating star-demons - and to the return of their creator, a malevolent goddess only held in check by the Protector God's power. The council is convening to choose a new emperor, but when a councilman is found dead, only Acatl, High Priest of the Dead, can solve the mystery.
MASTER OF THE HOUSE OF DARTS
The year is Three Rabbit, and the storm is coming...
The coronation war for the new Emperor has just ended in a failure, the armies retreating with a mere forty prisoners of war - not near enough sacrifices to ensure the favor of the gods. When one of those prisoners of war dies of a magical illness, ACATL, High Priest for the Dead, is summoned to investigate.
I reviewed the first book of the series here.
This was a wonderful collection. It combines fantasy, mythology, and mystery quite flawlessly. This series is a refreshing take on mythology and fantasy by incorporating Aztec mythology instead of the much more common Greek and Roman stories and characters.
Acatl is a likeable main character. As High Priest for the Dead, he’s in a relatively distinguished position, but doesn’t see himself that way. He tries his best to avoid politics, but through unraveling the mysterious activities in each of the novels, he discovers how much politics is intertwined in the doings of his fellow people. While he is good at figuring out if someone is lying to him, it takes him a while to truly figure things out because of his lack of understanding of the importance of politics in his Empire. This conflict forces him to grow as a person in each of the novels, form alliances with people he dislikes, and enter into the territories of various gods. Not only do people struggle with each other for power, gods do the same in these novels. And figuring out who is power hungry isn’t the only task. Acatl has to figure out in what god’s favor the people are and if the gods themselves are responsible.
These novels are extremely interesting and well written. If you like mystery and mythology or mysteries set in foreign places with different cultures, these books are certainly right up your alley.
This book can be difficult to read at some points. The names alone can trip up readers, as well as remember the gods and the people who serve them. Because the Aztec culture is foreign to me, figuring out how and why they do things and what certain positions mean and how their city forms it’s alliances with other cities can be difficult, too. The author jumps right into the story, so as readers, we are learning how things work as we go. This can be difficult and sometimes I had to backtrack and make sure I was fully understanding what certain events meant. Without patience, I imagine this book wouldn’t be enjoyable for some. If you don’t take the time to read slowly and learn the ways of the world in these books, I imagine you’ll care less about the characters and their fragile empire.
Overall, I would definitely recommend this book. I enjoyed it. The rituals and sacrifices and bits of magic were extremely interesting to me, moreso than the mystery, but mystery is not one of my top genres. What makes this book so good is the fact that while it is full of action, scenes are slower as Acatl or other characters perform spells and rituals to help them along the way. Each spell is written out and each action is described.